From the outset the founders of MonsterAds decided to do things differently. Lots of networks talk about being selective in their publisher recruitment, they actually walked the walk. They stuck to only one vertical for a long time. They moved to Puerto Rico. And it worked.
Over the last seven years MonsterAds has grown from a boutique dating network into one of the Blue Book’s Top 20 recommended CPA networks worldwide. The Managing Partner is Chris Patrick. We had a wide-ranging discussion about how they grew so fast, what they are doing differently to everyone else and where the industry is heading.
BLUE BOOK: What’s the origin story of MonstersAds? How did you get started?
Chris Patrick: When Ben Cagle and I launched the network in 2011, it was originally called Society Invite because it was by invitation only and very exclusive. We started with a handful of private publishers primarily in the dating vertical, but continued to grow by word of mouth because we have a reputation for being good operators. We always pay on time, we have aggressive payouts and great relationships with our publishers. Our advertisers love working with us as well because we are always transparent and fair with them. Plus, we have a very unique approvals process which ensures quality traffic which the advertisers love.
A little over three years ago, we moved to Puerto Rico to take advantage of the Act 20/22 tax incentives and we decided to rebrand at that time into something more relevant to the industry. We also added quite a few other verticals to our offer portfolio which at that time was very heavy in dating. Now we have offers in pretty much every vertical and dating is actually a very small portion of our overall business. When we rebranded, we introduced the world to MonsterAds and our mascot “Frankie” the monster were born. The MonsterAds brand has been a huge hit and is one of the most widely recognized brands in the performance marketing industry.
BB: What’s the elevator pitch? Why should publishers and advertisers choose you over any other network?
CP: Publishers love us because we are good operators. We are always looking for ways to help them make more money. We start with quality offers. We are the Agency of Record (AOR) or own many offers on the network and are direct on nearly everything else. This allows us to offer aggressive payouts on our offers right from the start. We have a development team on staff in case there are any platform customizations or adjustments that need made for tracking etc., plus a design team on staff to help make custom creatives for many of our offers. Our Affiliate staff is global and remote with team members in UK, Canada, Korea, Bangladesh, Puerto Rico, and across the US. This flexibility allows our affiliate managers to be ready to assist anytime and when they aren’t available Ben and I are usually online to help with anything.
BB: MonsterAds recently became a Blue Book Top 20 ranked network. You’re clearly doing something right – what do you think it is?
CP: We take care of our affiliates. We ensure we only accept the cream of the crop so we can best serve our affiliates, plus provide the best traffic to the advertisers. When we started, we didn’t grow too fast. We always tried to make long term decisions and not make “money grabs”. This is a mistake many failed networks make. They are forced to take chances because they don’t have the financial security to tell risky publishers or advertisers “No”. We have had a war chest financially since we opened so we never felt the pressure to take chances on either publishers or advertisers that were too risky. This has allowed us to grow nice and steady in a healthy way while never sticking publishers or advertisers because we screwed up.
We also give back to the industry. One way we have done that is through the multiple FB groups we developed for Advertisers, Publishers and even Act 20/22 members in Puerto Rico. Some people don’t like competition. I have always said “Good competition, is good.” The people who fraud and cheat their publishers or advertisers that aren’t good people, I’d like to see put out of business. If you run a good business, that helps the industry as a whole and makes everyone stronger.
BB: You seem to have a particular reputation for delivering high quality traffic. Is that a function of how you recruit publishers? Or something else?
CP: It starts with our review process. We ensure that our publishers are only sending quality traffic when we interview them. We don’t do any auto approvals. Unless someone is highly recommended by a trusted partner, we interview EVERY applicant. We do live screen-shares to review exactly what offers and verticals they are sending, the volume they are sending, and the fact they are getting paid consistently over a reasonable period of time. If a publisher can’t prove their performance, then we won’t approve them. We also have a zero tolerance policy for incent traffic. There are networks that specialize in that, we aren’t one of them.
Another way we deliver the best possible quality traffic to our advertisers is when a publisher starts pushing an offer, our QC team contacts the advertiser immediately to get initial feedback on the traffic quality. While some networks wait until the advertiser sees a problem and contacts them, we are always proactive. This lets us know the traffic is performing well for the advertiser, then we tell the publisher to put their foot on the gas and scale up. Advertisers appreciate that I because they know quickly that we care that they are satisfied with the traffic we are sending them. That ensures long term relationships through transparency and honesty.
BB: MonsterAds seems to focus on relatively high-volume affiliates. In your experience, what does an “ordinary” affiliate need in order to grow into a “super”-affiliate? Is it simple as just having the capital to invest in traffic, personal drive, or something else?
CP: There are a few things that I believe are important. First, specialization. You don’t see many publishers that are a high volume “jack of all trades”. The different traffic sources and verticals are so different, it’s nearly impossible to be an expert at all of them at the same time. Our most successful publishers tend to specialize in one thing. They are an emailer, a display advertiser, a media buyer or something else, just not typically many of those at once.
Then once they become an expert, the fact that we pay Net 5 on most of our publishers traffic allows them to have the capital to reinvest quickly and build a team or scale their campaigns. The most successful are also always innovating and optimizing their campaigns not only for their conversions but so the traffic is valuable for the advertiser. Ultimately that’s the most important thing- delivering quality traffic that the advertiser wants to continue buying long term. There are many publishers that send high volume traffic for a bit with no concern for the advertiser then when the advertiser removes them from the offer, they are constantly on the move from one offer or one network to another to keep getting away with the bad quality until they are discovered. That really makes it hard to scale when you are constantly running and hiding. The best affiliates do things the right way, send solid traffic and work on scaling rather than moving their businesses around constantly and hoping to be paid. The best advice is to work with a network like MonsterAds to optimize your traffic. Improve the advertisers conversions and satisfaction and you’ll be able to scale very large with sustainable campaigns and traffic.
BB: What is the future of affiliate marketing? Where will the industry be in five years time?
CP: That’s a great question. I think what ISN’T going to continue is people who ran successfully as an affiliate then decided they can scale up by paying for a cheap tracking platform and set up some brokered offers and have affiliates run under them. This has been a problem for the past few years. It has resulted in a lot of fly-by-night networks popping up and sending bad traffic, not paying publishers when the advertiser bans them because they didn’t properly vet the pubs and review the traffic. There have been a lot of networks who only brokered from other networks and got some random affiliates to run traffic then went out of business.
I believe in order for networks to survive, they are going to have to move to more of an agency model and begin developing their own offers while running more internal traffic and relying less on affiliate traffic.
Affiliate marketing is always changing. When we started, there was no mobile marketing. Now, the majority of conversions and website visits come from mobile devices. One thing is for sure, the networks that will be around for the next 5 years will be able to adapt and adjust as needed. They need to make long-term decisions and not make quick money grabs. This is the same formula that has kept us strong for the past 10 years even when business seemed down.
Thanks for the time and opportunity to share MonsterAds and my thoughts with the readers. If any publishers or advertisers would like to discuss any of my comments further or may be interested in working together, they can reach me via email at: Chris.Patrick@MonsterAds.com or add me on Skype at: Chris.MonsterAds